About

History of the Academy

Sue Beaton (Liz’s mother) commenced teaching in Canberra in 1956 after emigrating from Belfast, Ireland. Liz  danced from the age of 4 years and competed in State and Australian Championships until the untimely death of Sue in 1980. From Sue’s obituary:

“Apart from the pupils who learnt at the Sue Beaton School of Irish Dancing, Mick Jagger and the cast of “Ned Kelly” were coached by Mrs Beaton in 1969.

The Beatons arrived in Australia from Belfast in 1951, and their neighbours in Narrabundah (Canberra) were soon learning jigs and reels. Along with the five Beaton children, the pupils of St Joseph’s Primary School, O’Connor were also taught Irish dancing.

Mrs Beaton’s efforts led to the separation of Irish from Scottish dancing in the Canberra and Goulburn eisteddfods, and to the introduction of traditional Irish folk dancing to the Monaro Folk Society.

In 1975, Mr and Mrs Beaton travelled overseas with two of their children to learn new dancing steps and improve her school. Mrs Beaton returned to Ireland in 1978 with her two daughters and an advanced pupil, Julianne Driscoll, to compete in the Irish Dancing World Championships in Dublin.

On their return to Australia, she entered her pupils in the Australian championships, where they won some top placings.

Mrs Beaton was a foundation member of the Canberra Irish Club and served on the committee in the early 1970s. The Beatons were also members of the Irish-Australia Association in the early 1950s’.  

Another exciting chapter in the Beaton family, was the filming of the Ned Kelly film in Bungendore (small village outside of Canberra), when Sue was employed to teach Mick Jagger and cast of the film, Irish steps and Ceili dances for various scenes during the film.  Liz recalls many stories of her mother, teaching Mick Jagger the “Irish Jig”, saying that he was a complete gentleman and was very intent on getting the steps right!  At the same time, Sue was asked if she could provide two little dancing girls, who could participate in the “Party Scene” of the Ned Kelly film.  Liz and her little friend from St Josephs School in O’Connor, were driven from school to Bungendore in the hired limousine.  As you can imagine the Nuns at St Joseph’s were very excited at the prospect of two of their pupils starring in a major film, with such an infamous actor!  This was a very exciting time for Liz, as she prepared to play her small role in the Party scene with actors from all over the world!   Liz at the tender age of 11 years, took all of this in her stride – not realising the full impact of this wonderful adventure.

Following Sue’s death, the dancers of the Beaton School of Irish Dancing continued to dance under the tuition of Liz, (when in the same year Liz achieved a 5th placing at her final Australian Championships).  She then travelled to Dublin to study under renowned Teacher, Maire Walsh dec. where she  attained her T.C.R.G 1983.  Following this, Liz returned to Canberra to continue teaching and subsequently studied and passed her Adjudicator’s Certificate in 1990, in Canberra under 3 Examiners appointed by the Irish Dancing Commision in Dublin.

Liz also performed at various Concerts and Public Performances in and around Canberra, including the “Buffy St Marie” Concert at the Canberra Theatre where the Beaton Dancers received outstanding reviews from the Canberra Times Theatre reporter.

Liz has two children, Jackie and James, both performing in the same vein as their mother, and both danced at such a high standard to receive runner-up awards at the Australian Championships, along with many of Liz’s other students achieving Australian Championship status over the years.  Liz has continued to teach classes for all children in the Aranda area of Canberra.

Dancers from the Academy have achieved great success with achievements such as Australian solo and team titles, State Champion solo dancers and team dancers, New Zealand Championship, qualified and placed in North American Championships and the World Championships as well as performing at large outdoor Concerts and Theatre and Club Concerts.